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So long, summer

The days are already getting shorter, leaving those long, sunny days behind as a memory. But memories aren't all that remain. As a consumer society, we picked up a number of CDs and books. We took in some good shows, musical and theatrical, and e...


The days are already getting shorter, leaving those long, sunny days behind as a memory.

But memories aren't all that remain. As a consumer society, we picked up a number of CDs and books. We took in some good shows, musical and theatrical, and even tried on a new look or two. And when it got really hot, we sought refuge in air-conditioned theaters or hunkered down at home in front of the TV.

So here's a parting shot at some of the cultural highlights and low points of summer '07. And while parting may be such sweet sorrow, the change of seasons only means we're getting closer to some anticipated fall events.

So here they are - the good, the bad and the upcoming.

Turning the page


Wizards and muggles stole the literary spotlight this summer when J.K. Rowling's final Harry Potter book arrived in July. Fans spent the months prior contemplating the best ending for the series. Now they'll spend the next decade dissecting each paragraph.

Hiding in the young wizard's shadow were a few novels that avoided the hoopla, but proved appealing nonetheless.

Among those was Janet Evanovich's "Lean Mean Thirteen." The latest in the bounty hunter Stephanie Plum series actually prompted more check-out requests at the Fargo Public Library than the last Potter novel. Khaled Hosseini's second release, "A Thousand Splendid Suns," received rave reviews from many who declare it better than his debut, "A Kite Runner."

No spoiler alert will be necessary for the book-that-shall-not-be-published. Despite public outcry and being dumped by its first publisher, O.J. Simpson's "If I Did It" is scheduled for release in October. His hypothetical account of killing his ex-wife may be the most tasteless literary move of the season.

This fall, check out Minneapolis author Lorna Landvik's latest novel, "The View from Mount Joy." Alice Sebold ("The Lovely Bones") also will release a new novel, "The Almost Moon." Its first line: "When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily."

- Erin Hemme Froslie

Setting the stage

Feisty dancing, throaty leading ladies and gentlemen, and picture-perfect costumes - this summer's Straw Hat Players musicals had it all. It started with "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," a string of vignettes about romance that balanced tantalizingly between cynical and sweet. Then came "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," a sizzling blend of sex appeal and heart. Finally, the troupe gave us "Guys and Dolls," featuring a dynamite Miss Adelaide in the lovable Lindsey Fischer, who battled a stubborn case of the sniffles induced by her fiancé's marriage phobia.


Other summer stage highlights: the sassy dance numbers in Trollwood's "Thoroughly Modern Millie," including a bevy of New York City secretaries tapping at their desks to supply sound effects for their typewriters; the multitasking set on Gooseberry's "Hood: The Musical," with a leafy Sherwood Forest giving way to the villain's castle; and

60-something Ted Neely's go-for-broke high notes as Jesus in "Jesus Christ Superstar."

This fall, bring tissues and prepare to be uplifted at Theatre B's "The Rabbit Hole," David Lindsey-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. Then, savor North Dakota State University's take on the lyrical "Three Days of Rain," which got major buzz last year thanks to Julia Roberts' stage debut.

- Mila Koumpilova

Tune in or turn off?

For years, TV programs were like schoolchildren - they took the summer off. With the tube-glued masses off the couch to enjoy the upside of a temperate climate, programmers filled the prime-time hours with reruns and one-off specials. That's still essentially the case with the networks, though they also roll the most iffy reality-show offerings in with the repeats.

This gave the June finale of "The Sopranos" - the HBO cornerstone that spawned a rash of dark, anti-hero-driven imitators - little competition in dominating the summer's TV talk.

And talk they did after the mob show ended its six-plus-season run with an abrupt and ambiguous Journey-soundtracked final scene that fooled many viewers into thinking their cable had clunked out. The reaction was as animated as Paulie Walnuts' eyeballs and as befuddled as Uncle Junior - a fitting end for a series that always toyed with expectations.


The lowlight was the same one that plagues TV sets every summer - the three-month march of televised déj? vu in the form of reruns.

This fall is stacking up to be Drew Carey's, as the real-life Dilbert will be hosting "The Price is Right" and showing up twice a week in prime time on his game show "Power of 10." Hopefully Carey's luck won't extend to his beloved Cleveland Indians, for the Minnesota Twins' sake.

- Dave Roepke

Take another look

Move over short shorts and flouncy skirts of summer 2006! This past summer was the season of the dress, in all its wearable, breezy incarnations. There were short and flirty baby-doll numbers for the body confident. There were flowing empire-waist dresses - spruced up with lace, ruffles or pleats - for the hopeless romantics. There were sheaths in bold disco prints for whenever you're feeling spunky. This was also the summer of look-at-me colors and patterns that challenged even diehard solid-hue buffs to rethink their fashion philosophy. Primary colors and metallics spiced up shorts, frocks and pants. Stripes, both laidback horizontals and slimming verticals, popped up everywhere.

We weren't quite so sure about some of this season's exaggerated volume pieces - such as extra-full skirts and blouses with impossibly puffy sleeves - which threatened to overwhelm slim and voluptuous figures alike.

Coming up this fall: preppy-meets-sassy skirt suits for today's alpha women and cozy loose-fitting knit sweaters and sweater dresses for cool fall days when you want to tap into your softer side.

- Mila Koumpilova



The top-selling CD of the summer is still "Daughtry," a rock record by an "American Idol" cast-off that was actually released in November 2006.

So let's leave the recording industry to cry over spilled business models and focus on live music.

With ticket prices still in the stratosphere for solo shows (seats for The Police reunion tour, for example, are way north of a C-note), festivals continued to prosper. The national big three - Lollapalooza in Chicago, Bonnaroo in Tennesse and Coachella in California (which was in April, but that's pretty much summer in Cali, right?) - had killer lineups with big-name arena acts at night and a little bit of everything during the day. Locally, WE Fest and 10,000 Lakes both had strong years, though the two deaths at 10K will no doubt lead to some scrutiny next year.

Sheryl Crow's duet with Keith Urban on "Take It to The Limit" was the lasting WE Fest memory and further confirmation that country is the new soft rock. The sick grooves of That1Guy, equal parts techno, jug band and Rube Goldberg cartoon, impressed at 10K.

Fall looks promising for local rock fans, with an Oct. 3 date by The White Stripes prompting the heaviest salivating.

- Dave Roepke

Screen scene


Summer is traditionally the time for cinematic blockbusters, but 2007 was taken to the power of three.

Week after week saw some of Hollywood's biggest trilogies hitting the silver screen, starting with "Spider-Man 3," "Shrek the Third" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," all in May.

Continuing the three theme, each has grossed more than $300 million at the box office, according to Yahoo's movie site.

"Bourne Ultimatum" - the third in the Matt Damon action-packed series - is still tearing up the box office. Rounding out the summer trilogies were "Ocean's 13," also featuring Damon, and the buddy-cop comedy "Rush Hour 3."

Other film favorites of the summer included the latest in the "Harry Potter" franchise, comedy gems "Knocked Up" and "Superbad," the live-action "Transformers" and animated "The Simpson's Movie."

Lindsay Lohan falls on the other end of the spectrum. Besides her stints in rehab, her two summer releases, "Georgia Rule" and "I Know Who Killed Me," fared poorly with critics and at the box office alike.

This fall, keep an eye out for "Thunder Over Reno," slated for the Fargo Theatre Sept. 21-22. The crew of this

airplane-racing love story includes local aviation enthusiasts Bob Odegaard, Tim McPherson and the late Gerry Beck.


- Sherri Richards

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